Facebook Share

Friday, October 24, 2014

Far Flung Points, Posers, and All the Beaches Inbetween - St. Croix, Part 4


“I have a challenge for you,” I tell the concierge. “We’d like to take a snorkel trip to Buck Island but we haven’t been able to find a boat willing to take the wheelchair.”

“Challenge accepted,” she tells us.


While she goes off to find that tour, we’re off to find the sunrise.  No, we’re not actually getting up at the crack of dawn, we’re just driving to the end of the island.

Watch The Video!

Point Udall is the eastern end of the island.  It’s also the eastern-most point of the United States.

It’s still hard to wrap our heads around that this is still our country…part of the good ‘ole U.S. of A…but it is. This barren little rock outcropping is the first soil in our country to feel the sun’s rays.


A monument put up at the millennium alludes to this fact.

I peer over the side to see the extreme end of the point. The rocky outcropping is constantly pounded by waves.


There’s even a little waterspout when the waves hit it just right.

Now, let’s go find the island’s most famous industry, the rum.

St. Croix has been making fine Caribbean rum for over 300 years. Cruzan is their brand and is found as the well liquor in just about every bar on the island. The distillery offers tours but it is full of stair climbing and is not hospitable to wheechairs.

We’d like to take a tour but this just doesn’t sound like much fun for Tim. Luckily, there is now another option.


Recently, Captain Morgan rums relocating their distillery from nearby Puerto Rico to a new plant near the airport. It’s new, this is the United States…home of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it should be accessible…right?

We pull into the handicapped spot in front of the new visitor’s center. Inside, we’re told that the tram used for the tour is not wheelchair accessible and that there is also one part of the tour where visitors get off the tram and walk a little bit.

I ask if I can transfer Tim into the tram and if he can stay on it during the walking part. The answer is yes to both so we sign up for the tour (no pictures allowed during the factory part).

We roll Tim out to the tram, which looks like the kind Universal Studios uses for their backlot tours. We’re escorted to the side where one tour guide notices the seat behind the driver folds up.

“If you can lift both him and the wheelchair, you can put him there,” she says.

No, I can’t lift both but I can transfer him into the seat onboard.

Then the other tour guide notices a slot under the floor of the tram.

“What’s this?” she asks and pulls on a strap there. Low and behold, a ramp slides out. In operation for a year, no one had noticed there was a wheelchair ramp built into the side of the tram.

They pull it out, I wheel Tim onboard, and beg to take a picture.

“But you don’t understand, a lot of wheelchair users follow our travels and would be thrilled to know your tour is accessible,” I plead.


After a few minutes, I’m finally given permission to take one, really quick picture. It turns out Tim is the very first wheelchair visitor they’ve ever had and I am happy to report that the Captain Morgan distillery tour in St. Croix is now fully wheelchair accessible…even the walking part halfway through.

After the tour, we watch a very entertaining film about the brand and learn how to do the “pose” while sipping samples of their dozen or so rums in the bar.


During this little “happy hour,” we also get to have two cocktails of our choice mixed with one of their brands, of course. We spend another hour in the gift shop looking for souvenirs and rum. It is a very inexpensive place to buy it. Before I left home, I saw Captain Morgan Spiced Rum for sale at Costco for $34.99. Here? It’s $9…no tax, either (U.S. citizens can take up to 6 liters of liquor home duty-free, as long as at least one bottle is made on the island).

We take a dozen bottles home.


Back at the Buccaneer, we change into our swim trunks and head to the beach. There are three beaches here but most people only go to two. Mermaid Beach and Grotto Beach. We go to Grotto because they also have a swimming pool there.

The road is long and the hill steep enough that you don’t want to walk down to the beach from the great house, especially with a wheelchair. The hotel runs shuttles up and down the hill all day long but we opt to drive in the rental car. That way we can set our own schedule and throw a six pack of beer in the back to supply us on the beach.


Not quite accessible, it takes two steps to get to poolside here but I’m able to back Tim down them pretty easily. We blow up an inner tube and Letty and I get him into the pool without a problem. Tim takes a couple of hours to float around the pool while Letty and I tag team to stay with him there while the other goes swimming in the adjacent ocean.


I get a diving mask, snorkel, and fins from the beach shack and head to the coral reef just offshore. It’s a bit murky since there was a storm a couple of days ago, with lots of little bits of seaweed floating around. Not really great and not really worth the great effort it would take to get Tim in the water.

Still, I was able to get a little video of it, which you can watch in the embedded video, above.


As the day comes to an end at Grotto Beach, we go back up the hill to make homemade rum punches, sit on the terrace and listen to the sounds of the house band playing on the beach and wafting up to our room on the sunset breeze.


Darryl
Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS: London, England


Our ratings are...

Fully Accessible - You can access all of the attraction, with no problem, in any type of wheelchair.

Mostly Accessible - You can access most of the attraction, and all of the important parts of it, with your wheelchair.

Partially Accessible - You can access a good deal of the attraction but some parts are inaccessible and some important parts you'll miss.

Inaccessible - Kind of speaks for itself, avoid if you're in a wheelchair.

Here's London, England...


Tower of London - Partially Accessible. You will get to see just about everything except the original inner tower. The Beafeaters here are very good with making sure wheelchair users get the maximum benefit from their tour. Carers are admitted free and the Tower Hill Underground station, across the street, is also wheelchair accessible with a lift.


London Eye - Fully Accessible. Carers admitted free here, too. Ride is smooth as glass and really not that scary at all. Views on a clear day are incredible.


Westminster Abbey - Partially Accessible. Some side chapels and the underground graves will be inaccessible but there is still a lot to see here.

Churchill War Rooms (formerly Cabinet War Rooms) - Fully Accessible. Fascinating first-hand glimpse to the spot where England coordinated the war effort in World War II.

Old Globe Theatre - Mostly Accessible. The recreated theatre of the Bard is a very good accessible attraction on the south bank of the Thames.


Royal Naval Observatory (Greenwich-Prime Meridian) - Fully Accessible. It is a rather long tube ride and a long hike up a hill to get there, however.

Transit - All Black Cabs are accessible and expensive, all but two bus lines are accessible via the back door, many Underground stations are accessible, click here for a map.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Crashes, Feeding Frenzies, Disappointments, and Triumphs: St. Croix, Part 3



Need to catch up? Click on the following links for Part 1 and Part 2 of this trip.

We’re here, we’re squared away as far as access goes…why don’t we start enjoying St. Croix?

The Buccaneer is an historic, family run hotel sitting on over 300 acres just east of the town of Christiansted. It’s a rambling affair with a great house on the hilltop overlooking three beaches and a golf course. All guests receive a complimentary, full breakfast buffet with an option of omelets or eggs cooked to order.

Watch the Video!


Since we’re trying to do this on a budget, the plan is to eat a big breakfast to last us most of the day so we can skip lunch and save a little money on this expensive island.


Heaping piles of creamy scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, and sausage sit on our plates followed by a bowl of fresh pineapple chunks, oranges, grapes, and bananas. Steamy coffee wakes us up and a variety of juices gives us a filling and healthy way to start the day. All this fresh and delicious food is attended to some of the friendliest staff you’ll meet.


Looking to the west, we can see the harbor at Christiansted. It’ll be quiet on this Sunday morning so we’ll go over and have a look around after tipping our waiter.

It’s a two mile, fairly hair raising drive over to the town. Driving in the Virgin Islands is unique. Yes, you’re still in the United States but it’s a bit different here. For one thing, you drive on the left. I’ve done this in Ireland and really had no problem adjusting but there’s another curve these islands throw at you…you’re driving American style cars…which mean the driver sits on the left and drives on the left, not right-hand drive like you’d see in the UK or Ireland.


It is quite disconcerting and takes a bit of getting used to. To start off, the narrow little driveway of the hotel is a roundabout with a fountain in it. I’m watching on the right to make sure I have room when I suddenly hear the awful sound of metal scraping concrete. I’ve just put a large, crescent shaped dent in the driver’s door by rubbing up against the fountain.

We manage to extract ourselves, curse a bit, and hope that American Express will really cover the damage. With that behind us, we continue on to town without incident.


Downtown Christiansted is a warren of tiny little narrow one-way streets. Parking is scarce but we do find two handicapped spots open two short blocks from the waterfront. Luckily, we remembered to bring a parking placard with us.

Walking down to the boardwalk is an adventure in accessibility…roll down the sidewalk a bit, cross over mid block where there’s a ramp to cross over, get halfway down the next block and finish by rolling in the street until we hit water.


A dive shop offering snorkeling tours to Buck Island, just offshore, is open. On the web, they say they accommodate disabled tourists so we stop in and ask.

“Can he walk down stairs?” we’re asked.

“No.”

“Well you need to be able to walk up stairs into the boat and off of the boat when we get to the island for snorkeling.”

“But on the Internet it says you take disabled people out for snorkeling…you even have a picture of a guy in a wheelchair on the boat.”

“We do, but they have to be able to walk up and down stairs.”

“They don’t sound too disabled to me,” I finish up with and leave.

We’ll see if we can do some shore diving at the hotel and task the concierge into finding us a trip we can take. In the meantime, next door is Rum Runners, a waterfront bar, with very large fish swimming in the water under the dock.


“They’re tarpon,” someone says.

We strike a long conversation with a local lady just enjoying the dock while surfing on her iPhone.

“They’re not good eating so we leave them alone. Sometimes people will catch them, cut them up, and use for bait.”

We learn something new each day.

A short stroll to the other end of the boardwalk brings us to Fort Christian National Historic Park. Since Tim has a Golden Access Pass, we don’t have to pay the $3 admission into the fort. Doesn’t really matter since only the area inside the gate is accessible. The volunteer on duty tells us they can’t put a ramp inot the fort because of the historical nature.

I politely suggest that she should pass the word along that non-permanent ramps and lifts have been used at national historic sites like the White House and Fort Sumpter, maybe they could look into it?

While Tim takes a look at the binder full of pictures and descriptions, Letty and I go into the fort to explore and take pictures.


Under a half-staff flag (we were there just days after the Boston Marathon bombing) sits a row of cannon to ward off pirates and invading navies…never used by the way. Down below is the powder magazine, next to the officer’s day room and armory. Across the courtyard is the tiny, cramped, dungeon where recalcitrant slaves were punished, along with some small detention cells.

Outside the fort is the old custom house with another building still holding the old scales where cargo was weighed to establish the tax owed.


A couple of hundred yards offshore is a five acre island called Protestant Cay. It looks lovely with many trees, flowers, and a wide sandy beach. There’s also the Hotel on the Cay there, offering some unique and low priced accommodations on their own little island paradise.

I don’t think it’s too accessible, though.


We finish off our first foray into town at the waterfront Fort Christian Brewpub, the Virgin Islands' only microbrewery.  We have some calamari and beer when one of the very mean feral cats comes to beg. I say mean because I found out just how feral it was when I reached down to pet him. I’m lucky I still have a hand…

The bartender goes over to the water and throws something in. There is a big splashing commotion so we go over to take a look.

He’s throwing chicken bones into the water, which immediate sends the tarpon into a feeding frenzy. It’s quite a sight to see.

Apparently, it’s a tradition here to order chicken wings at the pub and then throw the leftover bones into the bay where the tarpon will gladly swallow them whole.

With a little island brew, history, and cheap entertainment under our belt, we head back to the hotel.

I meet tonight’s musicians unloading their van in front of our room. Junie is his name, as he introduces himself to me along with his son Rocky and associate Charles.

“I’ve never heard of anyone with the last name of Musick,” he tells me with great amusement. “Come and see the show.”


We do. Junie and Rocky provide a great, steel-drum set of music while we sip on cocktails on the terrace. Junie sees Tim and says “you have a special son.”

Yes, I guess I do.

“I have a special son too,” he tells me as he points to Rocky, who is now across the room surfing the Internet on the hotel's lobby computer. “He has ADHD and was put on all kinds of medicine including Ritalin. I had enough, it was just poisoning his head and it’s easier to deal without it.”

He tells me he’s been playing here at the Buccaneer since he was eight.

“The first night I was here there were battleships, aircraft carriers, and destroyers offshore. The Kennedy brothers and Lyndon Johnson were sitting where you were. It was during the Cuban missile crisis.”

He tells me of his family’s history on the island and the ranch they own.

“I’m cash poor and land rich but I consider myself a very wealthy man. My wealth is over there,” he says, as he points to Rocky. “That’s all the riches I need.”

Junie and the Jungle, as they call themselves, go back onstage for the second set as we finish off our drinks and head back to the suite.



A suitable introduction to our home for the next five days.


Darryl
Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Crucian Rum Punch


This week, Tim and I are coming to you from the beautiful island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.



Our quandary: we're not staying at an all-inclusive resort and have to pay for the majority of our drinks. Our solution: make a new, very easy to make, delicious cocktail that we can mix using cheap local ingredients.


Watch the Video!



The result is this rum punch using rum, cranberry-raspberry cocktail, and lime juice.  Here's the recipe...

INGREDIENTS

1.5 oz rum
2 oz cranberry-raspberry cocktail
juice of half a lime

In a lowball glass filled with ice, squeeze in lime juice. Pour rum in, then cranberry-raspberry cocktail. Drink.

It's that easy...




Cheers!

Darryl

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bad Omens and Good Luck in the Virgin Islands...St. Croix, Part 2



You can catch up with Part 1 of our St. Croix trip here.

We’re on the runway at Miami International, engines powering up, about to take the final flight to St. Croix when the pilot comes on the intercom as the engines wind down.


“Folks, we’re going to have to return to the gate. The second button on the radio is not working and FAA regulations say we can’t fly without it. Hopefully, this will be a quick fix and we can be in the air shortly.”

Uh oh, I’m already nervous about this trip, booking an unbelievably cheap trip to St. Croix in the U. S. Virgin Islands and crossing my fingers, hoping that the hotel will really have an accessible room for us. Is this a bad omen?

We crawl back to the gate. A mechanic soon appears up front and walks out with a box. We can see him get in a truck on the tarmac and drive away.

“Folks,” (they always start that way…a real folksy, aw shucks, wouldn’t you just know it, kind of quality in their voice) “the mechanic has just taken the entire radio and is heading to supply to see if they have a replacement in stock. We’ll let you know what happens as soon as we can.”

Our 4:20 flight is supposed to have us on the island at 7:00pm. Even though our package came with taxi vouchers to and from the airport, I have decided to rent a car so we can explore the island at our leisure. Besides, it just might give us somewhere to sleep if no room is available…will the Hertz office still be open when we get there? They close at 9:00pm.

Wouldn’t you know it…15 minutes later, the truck returns. The mechanic plugs in a new radio and leaves the plane…a hero to cheers from the main cabin.

“Folks, this is your captain speaking…that has to be the quickest repair in my history of flying planes. We’ll close the doors and be in the air as quick as we can.”

Just a little over an hour late, we’re wheels up from Miami. Now, I’m just wondering if I’ll make it to the car rental counter in time.

We touch down in St. Croix at 8:20pm. Since we need the aisle chair, we have to deplane last. You never realize how slow people can get off of a plane when you’re in a hurry and have to wait. You’re sitting there thinking “pull your suitcase, don’t push it; did you not know the plane landed? You’re just now getting your case out of the overhead?”

Sometimes, I'm not just thinking it...

St. Croix is too small for jetways, so we have to deplane using a very slow lift. We’re on the tarmac at 8:45pm. The plan is for Letty to go to baggage claim while I hustle to Hertz.


Luckily, they’re next door to each other and I make to the counter with a few minutes to spare. Our “minivan” turns out to be a Ford Flex, nice car but a real minivan would work better for us. We’ll make it work.

Letty makes quick work of the luggage and a taxi driver with our name on a board appears. I tell him we don’t need a ride but since we did pay for a voucher, would he mind driving to the Buccaneer and I’ll follow? No problem…we have a lead car to the hotel. Thirty minutes later, we’re there.


I tip the driver and head in…this is my biggest fear. Would we get the room promised? We hand the front desk clerk our voucher, fill out the form, and he hands us the key.

“Your room is just around the corner; would you like me to show you the way?”

Sure, why not? The moment of truth, what would the room be like and how accessible is it?

Four doors down from the main entrance, he opens the door for room 104…or I should say suite 104. There are no steps. There is plenty of room. The bathroom is accessible (tub, shower chair, and grab bars…no roll in here but not necessary for us) or I should say THIS bathroom is accessible. Yes, we have two.


It’s a full suite with a separate bedroom featuring a king-size bed, a huge ocean view terrace, two bathrooms (one accessible), three sinks (one in a separate dressing area), a large walk-in closet, safe, refrigerator, two flat-screen TVs, DVD player, a living room with a day bed couch that Tim will sleep on, a bucket filled with ice and a water pitcher.


Finally, my fears of sleeping in the car or on the beach are subsided. It’s time to enjoy this luxury but low-budget vacation.


It’s been a long, anxious day of traveling so we’ll hit the sack and take up the beautiful island of St. Croix starting in the morning.

Darryl
Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS: San Francisco


Our ratings are...

Fully Accessible - You can access all of the attraction, with no problem, in any type of wheelchair.

Mostly Accessible - You can access most of the attraction, and all of the important parts of it, with your wheelchair.

Partially Accessible - You can access a good deal of the attraction but some parts are inaccessible and some important parts you'll miss.

Inaccessible - Kind of speaks for itself, avoid if you're in a wheelchair.

Here's San Francisco, California...


Alcatraz Island - Mostly Accessible. There's an accessible uphill path to climb and the ferries going over do not have accessible bathrooms on board. Other than that, you can go pretty much anywhere that is open to the public in this former prison.


Cable Cars - Inaccessible. Instead, use the accessible vintage streetcars that travel along Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf.


Coit Tower - Inaccessible.


Golden Gate Bridge - Fully Accessible. If you're not afraid of heights, you can walk across the bridge on the northbound side.


Ghirardelli Square - Mostly Accessible. You'll need to detour around a bit to get to the accessible entrance on the side.  Some parts of shops and restaurants are inaccessible due to stairs but you'll be able to see everything that's important.

Fisherman's Whart - Mostly Accessible. Again, some of the older shops may have stairs here and there but you'll be able to see most of the shops here.

AT&T Park - Mostly Accessible. Except that there's only one elevator location for fans, creating a choke point, the rest of the home of the Giants is completely accessible.


Ferry Building (market) - Fully Accessible. Can get very crowded, however.

Cable Car Barn and Museum - Fully Accessible. You can't ride the cable cars but you can visit this fascinating museum and watch all the machinery that runs the cables under the streets.

Darryl
Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 13, 2014

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IN A WHEELCHAIR: Riu Palace Punta Cana and Area Access Features


Here's how we found access in the Dominican Republic...

ON ARRIVAL: Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) does not have jetways. All passengers board and deplane via stairs. Four men carried Tim down the stairs (and back up when we left) in the plane aisle chair.  An airport chair awaited us at the bottom.

Wheelchair users are escorted though the entire arrival process, including through immigration and customs all the way through to your ground transportation. Our gate checked chair was provided to us at baggage claim.

The airport, other than the boarding stairs, is very accessible and nicely ramped throughout. The restrooms have handicapped stalls and there is also a family restroom available.


GROUND TRANSPORTATION: Since it was our first time, we decided to use a manual chair instead of the power chair.

We used Dominican Airport Transfers, where we were able to book a private van for the three of us, round trip, for less than $100.  They were on time (actually a little early), safe, courteous, and comfortable.  They do not have lift equipped vans but we did find this company...RD Shuttle...that provides wheelchair transportation services.


AT THE HOTEL:We picked the Riu Palace Punta Cana because it was the only hotel we could find that would block an accessible room for us. Several resorts in the area purport to have accessible rooms and facilities, but we could not find any other that would guarantee it.

Watch the Video!

See the video above for a tour of the accessible features of the hotel. There are step-free rooms with roll-in showers which are very nice junior suites but they are not located in the prime area of the hotel. They are very close to the ramp which leads to the restaurants, pools, and beach.  Other step-free rooms with bathtubs are available closer to the beach.

There are six lifts...two on each side of the lobby and one in each wing closer to the pool and beach...four ramps, located at the bottom level of each lift, that will provide access to the plaza, restaurants, shops, pool, and beach.

The grounds are very nicely ramped throughout. A paved path runs along the beach starting at the Colonial Street shopping area adjacent to the pool. About 200 yards south on the path, it jogs pretty close to the water where you can transfer to lounge chairs on the sand.

-Darryl
Copyright 2011 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 12, 2014

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Dominican Resort Drink Tour

Quandary - you have an unlimited bar tab at a tropical resort. How to you make the most of it?



Watch the Video!


Coming to you from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, this week's Cocktail Hour tries to make a dent in it. Watch as we go from lobby bar to plaza bar and swim up bar to sample the bartenders talents.




Trying to not get too lit up (yeah, right) while keeping the sunburn to a minimum, it's all rum, tequila, and vodka by by the pool in this week's on-location Cocktail Hour video. Enjoy!


Cheers,


-Darryl

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sand, Sun, and Fun - The Dominican Republic, Part 2


It’s a balmy 80 degrees. A meringue duo is playing in the plaza’s gazebo. Cocktails are being served to the guests at the tables spread across the square. At 9:30, the resort’s guests make their way into the adjacent theater. It’s showtime at the Riu.

After the winners of the day’s activities are given their certificates and the entertainment staff has prepped and the cocktails served, the show begins. An army of bodyguards marches to the stage and Michael Jackson…or at least a reasonable facsimile…takes the stage for an hour of dancing and lip-synching.


Watch the Video!


If you’ve read part 1 of this report (and if you haven’t, click on that link now to get caught up…don’t worry…we’ll be here when you get back) you might have gotten an inkling of all the food, alcohol, activities available here. I should note that at the Riu (and most Punta Cana resorts) all of this is included in the price of your room.  All you can eat and drink, watersports, and endless entertainment and activities.  You never have to pay another dime. (Full Disclosure: The Riu is an affiliate advertiser on this blog - please see our Disclaimer policy)

A good night’s sleep in our room and we start the cycle all over again…





It’s a bit cloudy as we hit our time to go to the pool.  We head in and as the sprinkles start the guests run away. Hell, a little sprinkle isn’t going to stop us so we get our spot, put out the inner tube, insert Tim and jump into the pool.

The rain lets up but a few minutes later it starts again. Tim and I head to the swim up bar. Letty joins us.

Once there, the sprinkle turns to a downpour as we take refuge under the small overhang of the bar. As the deluge continues on, the unneeded extra bartenders are called to relocate to the lobby bar, fashioning trash bags as raincoats to run across the open area.


After a half hour riding the storm out and seeing the heavy clouds offshore, we decide that the next  break in the weather, we’re getting out.

An easing of the rain to a steady sprinkle gives us our chance. Usually, there is a strong man nearby that we can draft to help me lift Tim out of the pool. Not today…we’re the last ones there. It’s mainly just me, with a little help from Letty.

It’s tough, but we manage to do it.

Back in the room, we decide this is a good time for Tim’s shower as we have given up on the pool for the day. After dressing, we decide to explore.

Next to the hotel’s spa is Colonial Street, a small shopping area. While Letty looks at bikinis, the cigar seller strikes up a conversation with me. I ask if he sells Cuban cigars and he does. He clips one, hands it to me, and lights it up…it’s my sample.

Of course, next comes the hard sell, trying to sell me boxes of Habanos to take home but I keep telling him I can’t.  Not Cubans at least with the embargo in place.

It’s a tough back and forth for a few minutes, then Letty comes over with her fluent Spanish to help me out.  I finally get through to him that I just wanted to try a Cuban and we settle on some local Domincan cigars to take home. The large Cuban is my gift to keep smoking so I don’t have to worry about breaking any laws.


We have dinner at the Italian restaurant tonight. White fish and creamy chicken are our entrees but the appetizer bar ahead of time can be a meal in itself.

Salad, pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, cheese, are just a few of the items spread out there.


The next day, it’s time to hit the beach.  We wander next door to the Riu Palace Macao where the paved beach path takes a detour close the water where we can get some lounge chairs and swim in the warm, Caribbean waters.

It’s not long before a waiter comes by and plies us with drinks from the beach bar.


There’s an old shipwreck just offshore, I ask him what the story is. He doesn’t know the whole saga except that the ship crashed about 30 years ago and has been slowly breaking up on the reef every since.  (A quick search reveals the fact that it was a Russian freighter called the Astron that crashed in a storm in 1978.)

We’re in front of the Macao, which holds the area’s casino. Tim wants to go see it. It’s a small place, surrounded by ongoing construction, and we’re the only 3 people in there aside from the staff.  Tim and I wouldn’t mind playing some roulette but we’re told the tables don’t open until the evening. Oh well, it’s not the most lively place so we leave and head back to our hotel.

This evening would be spent in the Riu’s sports bar where we watch local Dominican League baseball (or beisbol, as it is here) on the large flat screen cheering on the action with the bartenders. Want to make instant friends with any local here? If you’re a baseball fan, just start talking about the sport…they love it here as Europeans do soccer.


The next night was a fabulous show featuring a lot of Dominican folk music and dancing.


Alas, the time has come to go home. One last drink in the lobby bar with our bags and our taxi driver finds us. It’s back to Punta Cana International Airport where one of the workers escorts us through all the necessary checkpoints before boarding our plane to Atlanta.


It’s Thanksgiving Day and both planes home are half-full. We are able to upgrade to business class and stretch out, looking back on a great week on that melancholy flight home.


-Darryl
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved